Today I'm posting from the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) meeting, where the committee members are expected to vote on whether to punish Florida for scheduling its primary before the opening of the authorized "window." A front page story in today's Washington Post describes what is expected to happen here today: DNC May Deny Florida Slots at '08 Convention
The RBC has some well-known and influential members, including Harold Ickes (top advisor to Hillary Clinton's campaign, former deputy chief of staff to Bill Clinton, Donna Brazile (Al Gore's campaign manager), Don Fowler (former DNC chair and former SC Dem Party chair), James Roosevelt Jr (FDR's grandson and the longtime chair of the RBC, and Alexis Herman (former Secretary of Labor). The full DNC is likely to follow whatever the RBC recommends.
The RBC is responsible for approving each state's Delegate Selection Plan. The committee holds several meetings during the year before a presidential election to review each state's plan and approve or deny various waivers to the extensive rules for selecting delegates. (Here is a link to the 2008 Delegate Selection Rules). The rules cover everything from when a state can hold its primary or caucus (which is typically the first stage of a state's delegate selection process) to the break down of men and women in a state's delegation (it must be equally divided between men and women).
Blogger's full disclosure: I was a DNC staff member during the 2004 presidential election cycle, and I served as a staff member to this committee. My first job was to advise the state democratic parties on preparing their delegate selection plans, so that they would be in compliance with the rules, and then my second job was to advise the RBC members on how they should vote on a state's plan or waiver request.
Right now, the RBC is hearing the requests for waivers from various delegate selection plans. Most of the requests are pretty routine - a state might have a deadline for applying for a delegate position that is earlier than the deadline specified by the national party rules. But the hot topic today is how to deal with violations of the calendar rule. Currently the rules specify that any state holding a primary or caucus before February 5 (except Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina - the 4 states the get special permission to hold early contests) wil be penalized. The RBC staff has reccommended that the Florida waiver request be denied and that their plan be found non-compliant with the rules. That means the Florida Democratic Party would be forced to hold a seperate nominating contest and not participate in the January 29 state primary.
Next up is the discussion of what to do with Florida.